Monday, February 11, 2013

Q&A with Meghna Pant - Author of One and a Half Wife

When I first read the title " One and a half wife" just couldn't resist reading it and Meghna just sent it the next day for a review. I read it in 5 hours straight and loved the story. Therefor here is getting to know Meghna, a good author and a beautiful human being from whom there is a lot to learn. 

Q. When did you begin writing?
A: Writing as an all-consuming process began six-seven years ago.

Q. What is your motivation behind the same?
A: It helps me funnel my disarrayed emotions and experiences into a common denominator.

Q. Tell us something about your experience as a business journalist and an NDTV anchor?
A:  Journalism has helped my writing by teaching me how to work with disjointed information and to always seek the truth.

Q. How did your journey into writing begin?How was the road smooth or bumpy?
A: Writing is romanticised only by those who don't do it seriously; it’s the toughest thing you’ll ever do and the best reward is self-satisfaction.  
I was 19 when my first short story, Aberration, was published online. But I started writing seriously around five years back, though at that time it was only short stories. To improve my art I took several writing courses in New York, and after a fair share of rejections and heartbreak, my short stories slowly began to be published in reputed US literary magazines. The idea for a full-length novel, One & A Half Wife, came only in 2009 and it was picked up by several publishers on completion. But I'd describe the road as bumpy; you have to really persevere to be a publisher author. 

Q. Tell us something about your recent book “One and a Half Wife”?
A: 'One-and-a-Half Wife’ captures some of the social realities of our time. It examines the long-standing Indian desire to live in the US, while portraying the struggles of an immigrant family’s so-imagined American Dream, and the moral cocoon in which Indian Americans live. It highlights the trend of reverse immigration, increased divorces, single parenthood, old India vs. new India, domestic violence, political muscle, all of which are forging new identities in India. The background score is the call of the homeland and a search for one’s identity. It has now become a bestseller, won the national literary award: Muse India ‘Young Writer Award’ and gone into three reprints.

Q. The title is very catchy “One and a half wife” how did you come to think of it?
A: It meshes together the two narrative arcs of the novel, so it came very organically, unlike most other titles that are a nightmare to pin down.

Q.What triggered your imagination to write this story? How did you imagine the concept, the characters, etc?
A: My experiences in New York, the global tumultuousness during that period and living away from India; all determined this novel.

Q.Your book been received very well by the readers in India and abroad, how do you feel?
A: The reception to it by readers and critics has surpassed my expectations. I’m deeply touched and honoured.

Q. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
A: Finding the time to write is most challenging as I’m also working full-time.

Q. What is the best and worst part about being an author in your opinion?

A: The best part is the heightened sense of awareness you feel about yourself and others, which I feel has moulded me into a better human being. The worst part is having to disconnect with the mundane because you simply want to write.

Q. Did you ever get “The Writers Block”? How did you overcome it?

A: Not yet. In fact I have too many ideas and not enough discipline to execute them.

Q. Who are your favorite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
A: Authors who strike the nearly impossible task of storytelling with literary prowess impress me, like Adiga, Mistry, Munro, Uris, Marquez, Kafka.

Q. What books have most influenced your life most?
A: The short storiesMetamorphosis by Kafka and Boule De Suif by Maupassant have most influenced me for their starkness and honesty.

Q. What are you reading currently?
A: Just finished reading Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil and was simply blown away by his brilliant writing.

Q. Broadly what are your next projects?
A: My collection of short stories Happy Birthday! will be published by Random House this October.

Q. What is your opinion about writing as a career?
A:Do it only if you care naught about money, security and a decent lifestyle.

Q. What do you think about the current trend of writing in India? Is the current lineage of Indian authors ready for an international audience/market?
A:No, I think there’s been an oversimplification of literature in India with the onslaught of mediocre writing. Discretion and taste need to be exercised to enable the growth of real talent.

Q. How do you manage your profession and writing together?
A: Honestly, at most times I’m just overwhelmed.

Q. Any advice for budding writers?
A: Write what you love to read.

Q. Any message for your readers?
A: Read what you'd love to write.

Q: A message for The Readers Cosmos:
A: Thanks for all your love and support, and do read One & A Half Wife and Happy Birthday!

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